Death on the Family Tree by P-HarpercollinsPubl


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									Death on the Family Tree
Family Tree Mystery

Author: Patricia Sprinkle

With grown-up kids and a husband always on the road, Katharine Murray's nest would be empty if it
weren't for her Aunt Lucy—until the elderly woman dies. Now Katharine's saddled with her Aunt's worldly
belongings—mostly knickknacks destined for the dumpster. But there's a priceless Celtic necklace
among the dross—and a diary written in German, neither of which Katharine's ever seen
before.Determined to find out where these objects came from, Katharine unwittingly discovers a branch of
her family tree she never knew existed—namely Aunt Lucy's brother Carter, murdered more than fifty
years ago after a mysterious trip to Austria. And when Lucy's artifacts are stolen, and the main suspect
turns up dead, Katharine realizes she must solve a burglary and two unsolved homicides separated by a
half-century . . . before more than her family secrets end up dead and buried.

Katharine Murray woke on her forty-sixth birthday and realized that nobody needed her.She got the
message slowly, not being at her best early in the day. She was halfway through brushing her teeth
before she even remembered it was her birthday, which was surprising, considering how much she loved
any cause for celebration. She spat, rinsed her mouth, smacked her lips to get full benefit from the
peppermint flavor, then crooned, "Happy, happy birthday, baby," as she leaned closer to the mirror for the
world's first glimpse of herself at forty-six.She looked remarkably like she had at forty-five: same heart-
shaped face with prominent cheekbones and a dusting of freckles, same long auburn hair in a practical
blunt cut so she could wear it in several styles, same golden-brown eyes that Tom, her husband, used to
call topaz back when he still said things like that. With one fingertip, she traced what she hoped people
thought were smile lines around her mouth, not teeth-clenching lines from raising two children to
adulthood."Same old same old," she murmured to her reflection and padded back to her bedroom.She
didn't bother to change out of the cotton knit shorts and T-shirt she slept in when she was alone in the
house, just stumbled downstairs barefoot to fix birthday breakfast for one.At the kitchen door she was
stopped in her tracks by her first clear thought of the day: Why did I re-do this kitchen? I don't have a soul
to cook for.Tom left Atlanta each Monday morning to keep Washington lawmakers aware of the needs of
his corporation's far-reaching empire, then returned each Friday night to spend the weekend playing golf,
puttering at their lake house, or watching televised sports.Their daughter, Susan, was happily climbing
the lowest rungs of the New York Stock Exchange with visions of her own trader's jacket one day.Their
son, Jonathan, had tossed his Emory mortarboard into the air three weeks before and caught a plane to
China to teach English for two years.And with the deaths of her mother and two elderly aunts in the past
eighteen months, Katharine's membership in the Bi-Delts—that vast sorority of Dutiful Daughters—had
expired.Aunt Lucy had died five days before, and with her death, Katharine was well and truly orphaned.
Her parents had married late and produced only one child. They hadn't even had the foresight to provide
her with cousins, which in the family-conscious South made her impoverished indeed. She had never felt
family-poor in the years when she was creating a home in Buckhead (still Atlanta's most desirable
neighborhood) for Tom and the children, meeting the increasing needs of her mother as she battled breast
cancer and Aunts Sara Claire and Lucy as they became frail and sank gently to sleep. But now—She
reached for the carton of orange juice and informed the refrigerator, "All the people in my life have gone
away and left me like a useless piece of driftwood on the beach of life. Do you realize it is my birthday,
and for the first time in my life, I don't have a soul to celebrate with?" As she turned for a glass, she
added over one shoulder, "And don't you think it's pathetic that a woman has to have the first
conversation of her birthday with a refrigerator?"She tried a few bars of "Happy birthday to you" while she
filled the glass, but it is not a song that sounds best when sung to oneself.At the breakfast table she
lifted her glass in a salute. "To us, kitchen. To the unneeded of the world."If the room felt unneeded, it
didn't show it. Its pale yellow walls were bright and cheerful, hung with...
Author Bio
Patricia Sprinkle
Patricia Sprinkle grew up in North Carolina and Florida, graduated from Vassar College, and afterwards
spent a year writing in the Scottish Highlands. She has been writing mysteries full time since 1988, and
currently lives in Smyrna, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. She and her husband have two grown sons.
When she is not writing, Patricia is active in advocacy for abused, neglected, and deprived children.

“Sparkling…witty…a real treat…as refreshing as a mild julep, a true Southern pleasure.”

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